One day my wife and I were in a taxi traveling to our Bed and Breakfast in Rome and I saw a sign on Prenestina Street: “Chiesa Cristiana Evangelica” (Evangelical Christian Church). We read enough Italian to say, “Hey! That’s us!” We made it a point to walk over there and try to find out when their services were.
There are churches on almost every street corner in Rome, but I did not see that many with this name on it. We found out their services were at 10 o’clock on Sunday, so we decided to go there after our son’s wedding.
My wife and I and our two youngest kids walked in on Sunday. No marble floors or golden mosaics–just an office like facility with pews, a simple altar, and about 45 smiling people (who were all very happily surprised to see visitors!). We greeted everyone with a happy “Buon Giorno” and told the congregation in our broken Italian that we were visitors from America and that I was a pastor. The Italians wherever you go make you feel so welcome.
We sang the stars down! They had a screen and projector and someone playing a keyboard and another person on guitar and we sang all the same songs we normally sing in America–except all the words were Italian. It was a good mix of contemporary Christian songs by Matt Redman or Chris Tomlin, as well as the good old fashioned hymns I learned as a kid (“He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way…”). What a wonderful service. The music was so joyful, and later I told our Italian brethren that all those songs sound better in their language!
We had communion and I heard a great sermon from the Epistle of James (an English-speaking lady behind us translated for us). This was a Plymouth Brethren church so they did not have just one pastor, but rather elders who rotated on a regular basis the duties of preaching the Word on Sunday. At one point in the service they showed a brief film on screen about a youth rally among all the evangelical churches in Rome. I asked the lady behind me if there were that many evangelicals in Rome to have such a rally (I was quite surprised). She assured me that they have quite a few!
Sadly, 12 noon rolled around and we had to leave our Italian brethren. But the next time I go back, we will definitely worship with these wonderful people again. If you are ever in Rome, go visit Chiesa Cristiana Evangelica, Via Prenestina, 74, Roma. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll love Rome, you’ll love the Italian people, and you’ll love worshiping at this church!